Miami men jailed for stealing $3M in ventilators for COVID patients

Miami men jailed for stealing $3M in ventilators for COVID patients

Two Miami men who stole a tractor-trailer packed with $3 million worth of ventilators for coronavirus patients in El Salvador have been sentenced to more than three years in prison, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Yoelvis Denis Hernandez, 42, and Luis Urra Montero, 25, were sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for stealing 192 medical ventilators being transported to Miami International Airport in August 2020, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Hernandez, also known as “Guajiro,” and Montero, whose nickname is “Flaco,” stole the tractor-trailer containing ventilators bound for a COVID-19 intensive care facility in El Salvador as part of a US aid program, prosecutors said.

Federal agents recovered most of the stolen ventilators, which were taken by Hernandez and Montero after a driver left the tractor-trailer overnight.

Most of the ventilators owned by the US Agency for International Development were recovered by the FBI in southwest Miami-Dade County, the Miami Herald reported.

Montero was sentenced earlier this week, while Hernandez learned his fate in December. Both men previously pleaded guilty to theft of government property, prosecutors said.

Medical staff member Mantra Nguyen sets up a ventilator for a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
Most of the ventilators stolen by Yoelvis Denis Hernandez and Luis Urra Montero were recovered by federal agents.
Getty Images
Dr. Gabriele Zanolini adjusts the ventilator of a patient at the emergency COVID-19 ward of the Mellino Mellini hospital in Chiari, northern Italy, Monday, March 8,
The US was shipping ventilators across multiple countries enduring high influxes of COVID-19 cases.
AP Photo/Luca Bruno

In 2019, Hernandez and Montero were among three men arrested in Florida’s Collier County on charges of grand theft for stealing a semi-cab and trailer in Miami, the Naples Daily News reported at the time.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Hernandez had also stolen a semi-cab packed with $750,000 in laptops three weeks earlier, the newspaper reported.

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